25 April 2013 – The Spring Junk Sale

Junk Sale; what else can be said. So many things that once cost vast amounts of money, now mostly unwanted, unneeded and mostly superseded by more modern equipment that will also be junk in an even shorter time.  Still, the money made certainly helps support our club!  

18 April 2013 – Visit Bedford School Planetarium and Observatory


Club members were guests of Mr. Linton Guise and the Bedford School Planetarium and Observatory last evening.  Although the afternoon was wet and windy, by the time we had come out of the planetarium, the sky was completely clear and dark.  From the 5m domed observatory which houses the 16 inch computer controlled Meade telescope being driven by Phil, we could see Jupiter and three of it’s moons, as well as close ups of our moon.

Outside the dome was another smaller telescope trained on the double stars, Mizar and Alcor in the ‘tail’ of Ursa Major which looks like a single star, unless you have excellent eyesight. Earlier, while we were in the planetarium, Mr. Guise explained that these two stars were used by the Romans to test the eyesight of those wishing to be centurions and mused whether it would be an advantage to see the separation or not. 

 On 2 May, Mr Guise will visit the club to talk about the history of local astronomy and how the Observatory and Planetarium were built.  


11 April 2013 – An Introduction to Gliding

Roger Castle-Smith

It was great to see some blue skies and sunshine, albeit slides in a presentation on gliding in New Zealand. 

Roger Castle-Smith detailed the major types of gliders starting with the Slingsby first flown in 1944, up to the modern 31M wingspan with an amazing glide ratio of 72:1  Of course, only a few of those have been made, the more available being the 25M wingspan with a very useable glide ratio of 58:1.  

Roger told of the modern instruments available for gliders. Apart from the usual airspeed indicator, altimeter, compass, bank and slip, was the vertical speed indicator which showed when the glider was in rising air, or the opposite. Also useful in the cockpit are the glide computer, moving map display and flight alarm. The location of restricted flying areas are detailed on the aero charts.  Roger then explained how the gliders get into the air.  The first method detailed was the winch utilizing about a half mile of cable to tow from the ground.  The club Roger is associated with has mounted four reels side by side on a vehicle which results in more launches and less time in retrieving the cable. Gliders can also be launched by aero tow, which results in a start from a greater height.

 Roger detailed some records made in gliding, such as the highest flight of 50,671 feet in 2006, also the longest journey without landing of 1,554 Miles in 15 hours.

  Roger then showed a video of a gliding flight from Omarama Gliding Club, New Zealand to Mt. Cook, and back, but instead of landing on the airfield, the pilots chose to fly to the western side of the island and land on a beach. The entire flight was over mountains and deep valleys. 

glider in NZ   

4 April 2013 – Setting up a Community Radio Station

Steve at the mic

The station in question is the Peterborough Youth Radio station and last evening it was broadcasting from the Shefford Amateur Radio Society meeting at the Shefford Community Hall, or it could have been.  Steve, M0DYR explained that the internet streamed radio station can be originated from almost anywhere and sent to the studio via 3G or the internet. The recorded programmes are then streamed on the internet.

Steve started by telling the assembly about his early start in radio at the age of 8.  Beside his interest in amateur radio he also has an interest in running a disco and broadcast radio and that led to his being the Technical Manager at Peterborough Youth Radio station.  They have faced most of the problems which beset a new start up, such as trying to raise money to maintain their small charity status by appearing at outside events such as carnivals, fetes and local hospital events. They are always looking for local advertisers and sponsors.  Although still an internet based station they still have to comply with the laws which compel them to make performing rights payments for all the music that is played.

The station has twenty-five regular presenters and can boast that, to date, they have had a total of one and a half thousand returning listeners.  They maintain an active presence on Facebook and Twitter where they get almost immediate feedback on their activities.

You can listen at:  www.peterboroughyouthradio.co.uk    www.pyronline.co.uk   www.pyrfm.co.uk